Born in Fire by K.F. Breene

51i-dmp630l-_sy346_Rating: 3 stars

Series: Fire and Ice Trilogy #1

I felt like this book tried to be more than it was. It had a little of all the classic UF stuff i.e. snarky heroine, heroine with special powers, unexpected sidekicks, hidden background. None of it melded into anything unique. 

Reagan had too much attitude. It was practically impossible for her to be serious no matter how dire the consequences. Sometimes it worked to her advantage because her behavior surprised others. Other times she seemed immature. Maybe it was just me but for about the first half of the book I had to remind myself that she was a woman. Her behaviors and actions made me think of a man.

Vampires are awesome, but these were fairly average vampires. Darius was the only one with considerable page time. I liked him but didn’t love him. He was the only potential love interest not that it was much of a romance.

Something about the writing style didn’t work well for me. I could follow the plot easily enough, but certain minor things didn’t flow well at times. Reagan’s secret was revealed at the end. I hadn’t figured out what she was but didn’t find it particularly shocking either.

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

27015399Rating: 5 stars

Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1

Wow! I can’t stop thinking about this book. I’m already tempted to reread it. In terms of quality, plot, etc. it was only worth 4 stars. It’s been so long since I haven’t wanted to put a book down and have been completely enraptured by it. It finally happened with this book, so it gets 5 stars.

It’s hard to put into words why I liked this so much. It wasn’t perfect. It’s not ideal for a relationship to begin with the H kidnapping the h. The chemistry was there right from the start despite Griffin being an arrogant bastard. All things considered, Cat wasn’t treated badly aside from not having the freedom to go where she wanted. Any feelings she developed were real. Nothing occurred to cause Stockholm syndrome. Other people’s reactions to Cat’s objections about being held captive pissed me off. They acted like it was no big deal because Griffin was rich and powerful and she’d have a good life with him. Whether that was true or not it shouldn’t matter. Others had the nerve to get annoyed when she complained about being held captive, which made it hard for me to believe in the innate goodness in some of the side characters.

Cat was an amazing heroine! This book was great because of her. She didn’t put up with shit from anybody whether she could best them or not. Many heroines are tomboyish, which she was. Feminine is definitely not a word I would use to describe Cat, but unlike other tomboy heroines, she knew how to act and dress like a lady and didn’t shy away from it when it mattered. Most of the time she chose to be herself, which was blunt, bold, bossy, and sarcastic.

I shouldn’t like Griffin. I really shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it. The guy is charming as hell. Half of the things he did were aggravating, but it’s the kind of aggravating that’s both infuriating and endearing. Despite his arrogance, he was a decent guy. He never needlessly killed nor was he cruel. He was way too bossy and needed to taken down a peg or two sometimes, so I thoroughly enjoyed it when Cat would smack him when he acted like a self righteous jerk.

The world building was an original twist on Greek mythology. Cat’s magic was interesting, although if she resembles a specific mythological god or demigod I haven’t figured out who it is. As to Cat’s true identity, well that was so easy to figure out although it hasn’t officially been revealed. The clues have been numerous and aren’t cryptic.

Although I love most of the characters and their lighthearted banter, I wish they weren’t so easy to figure out. The bad guys are pure evil or at least do a poor job of hiding their disdain for the people they dislike. The good guys are so good it’s almost sickening. The women in Griffin’s family are particularly irritating. They mean well, but they’re incredibly naive and need some sense knocked into them. I agree with what Griffin’s family wants to do as the new rulers of Sinta, but most of them are so damn clueless when it comes to politics. It’s hard to believe they overthrew the previous rulers in the first place let alone have the ability to maintain their position.

I know most of this review sounds negative, but I loved the book! The issues didn’t detract from my enjoyment. The romance was perfect. It wasn’t slow moving, but Cat didn’t jump into anything without giving it serious thought first and putting up some resistance.

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

25923471Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: Black Blade #3

It was a good ending to the trilogy, but nothing surprised me which is why I’m not giving it a higher rating. I was hoping something shocking would have happened. Basically all hell broke loose which was expected based on what was learned about Victor’s plans in the last book. Then it was up to Lila to save the day. Sure she had special powers, but she was only a teenager. It seemed ridiculous that fate of all of the families fell on a 17 year old girl.

It picked up right where the last book left off with Lila and the others trying to get the one up on Victor. At the beginning there was a dinner with all of the families. Lila had a feeling something would go wrong. It was very predictable. As soon as the dinner was mentioned I knew how things would play out. I was disappointed none of the characters figured it out since many of them knew Victor was power hungry. They should have been able to put two and two together.

Lila was the mastermind behind the plan save everyone. Her friends were there to back her up, but didn’t contribute anything useful on an intellectual level. I would have liked it more if they had been equals rather than Lila being the leader/hero.

None of the other characters did anything unexpected. This book needed some kind of betrayal or a character whose loyalty was wavering. Things ended up how I thought they would which kept the book from being suspenseful. I know this review sounds negative, but I really did like it. I just wasn’t blown away by it.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour

18505811Rating: 3 stars

Series: Night and Nothing #1

First half of the book gets 4 stars, and the second half gets 2 stars. Finn, short for Serafina, was a teenager living with her dad in San Francisco. Her mother was long dead, and about a year ago her sister committed suicide. She and her dad moved back his hometown in New York. It was a bizarre place. Spooky things happened in the woods, and many homes which used to be extravagant were abandoned. Some of the young people in town were strange and different. Many people in town were oblivious to these oddities.

For while I was really into this. Finn was depressed over the loss of her sister. She settled into her new town quickly by making friends and starting college. Finn had a hard time believing her sister committed suicide, and the more she learned about her sister the more suspicious her death seemed. She met Jack Fata and the rest of his bizarre family. She got the feeling there was some kind of connection between them and her sister. Something weird was going on with Jack. Being around Finn made him be able to bleed again, and I really wanted to know what that meant for him.

Unfortunately this went from interesting to YA cliched crap. The plot began to focus more on the romance than the sister’s death or the bizarre happenings in town. Jack was a mysterious bad boy, so of course Finn was drawn to him against all better judgement. At one point things with Finn and Jack were getting intense when it was mentioned that Finn had only known Jack for a month. By then they were acting like they couldn’t live without each other. Their relationship turned out to be nothing more than instalove with no realistic basis for a relationship. They didn’t know each other at all.

Farther into the story it developed a stronger YA feel. Finn and her friends were college freshman, so they were roughly 18. It felt like they were in high school. There was too much petty bickering and bullying. Finn got in a fight at college and went home to tell her dad. She was an adult. At that point in her life she wasn’t obligated to tell her dad about every mistake she made. Out of Finn and her two friends only one of them had a car. Finn didn’t even know how to drive. She and her other friend rode bikes. All three of them still lived at home. That didn’t seem so weird since the college was in the town. It was weird that Finn had a curfew. It was midnight which isn’t early, but the idea of college kids having curfews is odd IMO.

The character development was seriously needed work. The side characters had no depth. What you see is what you get with them. At first I thought some of the characters would be grey, and it would be hard to know where their loyalties lie. The bad people were simply bad, and the good were good. The only character with slightly questionable motives was Jack. He was supposed to be a serious threat to Finn, but I never got the feeling he would really hurt her. Finn’s two friends didn’t add much to the story. Sometimes I wondered why they were even in the book.

Finn acted dumber and dumber as the book went on. Her decisions became more reckless although everyone around her kept telling her what she was doing was dangerous. The intelligence of her friends was highly questionable also. They tagged along for every dumbass thing Finn did which put their lives in danger as well. The bad people were obviously otherworldly. Apparently her stupid friends thought they’d somehow be able to protect her from them. After a while it was fairly obvious what the Fatas were, but it took forever for Finn to figure it out. It took even longer for her to convince her friends. By the time the drama happened at the end, she’d been in the town and known everyone for about 2 months. She and Jack were literally willing to die for each other. The whole scene was overly dramatic.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Some things like her sister’s death got vague explanations but were satisfactory. Finn and Jack’s story was completely wrapped up. Nothing in this made me feel compelled to read the next one. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought this was a standalone.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

20443235Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #3

With every book this trilogy improved greatly. This book was just about perfect. I really can’t think of anything wrong with it or anything I wish had been done differently. This book had it all: good character development, lots of action, bravery, characters with morals, and mature romance that did not dominate the plot. Women were not depicted as weak or incapable. I loved seeing the women on equal ground with men, and best of all the men didn’t have a problem with it.

More female characters should be like Kestrel. In my experience maturity is a rare trait especially in YA. She stood up for what she believed in no matter what the cost, and I love her all the more for it. Kestrel is the kind of person people should aspire to be. Physical strength and battle skills were not her strong suit. She often relied on her intelligence. Most of the time she saved herself. She did not expect men to save her or fix all of her problems. In spite of everything she had been through she wasn’t filled with hate.

Arin is just about the perfect guy. He would do anything for the woman he loved including allowing her to make her own decisions even when he didn’t agree with them. Although kind and gentle, he would kill without regret when necessary. He was incredibly strong yet vulnerable. Revenge wasn’t the driving force behind his actions. It did factor into his decisions, but mainly the goal was to get back what rightly belonged to the Herrani.

Many of the side characters were in this, and their fates were explained. At times it was hard to tell if they were on Arin and Kestrel’s side or not. I’m amazed at how good this was. It’s YA. I expected it to be awful or cheesy, and it wasn’t. I would love YA if it were all written like this.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

20443207Rating: 4 stars

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2

I liked this book so much better than The Winner’s Curse. Kestrel and Arin are still the main characters, but they spent most of their time apart since they were on opposite sides of the war. Kestrel was stuck in the palace after the deal she struck with the emperor at the end of the last book. Arin was grappling with his new position in the empire. He struggled to help his people since although they weren’t being killed by Valorians they were still controlled by them.

I loved learning more about the cultures and politics. This was no Game of Thrones by any means, but it was entertaining. Some things were predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The plot was much better this time around since it focused more on politics and treachery than romance although romance was an important part of it.

Kestrel and Arin both had hard choices to make. They wanted to do what was best for each other while trying to make the empire a better place for the people in it. Colluding to reach the same goal wasn’t possible since it put them both in danger. Kestrel had to feign indifference where Arin was concerned. If he knew where her true loyalities lie, everything she had worked for would have fallen apart.

I thought this was going to have a love triangle since Kestrel was in love with one guy while engaged to another. It didn’t have that vibe at all. The engagement was nothing more than a political arrangement. Kestrel’s feelings for Arin were strong. I didn’t necessarily agree with the way she handled things with him, but I understand why she did it. Her heart was in the right place. Arin’s feelings for her were conflicted since he couldn’t determine if she was being honest or not.

Kestrel didn’t always make the best decisions. She didn’t have enough political experience to excel at subterfuge. I admired her for doing what she believed was right even when the costs were high. Kestrel is one of the most selfless character ever, but almost no one understood her. My heart broke for her at the end of this book. After what happened, I desperately want the next one.